Saying goodbye to The Church of Dirt

Oct 10, 2023, 9:30 PM | Updated: Oct 11, 2023, 4:28 pm

The church of dirt in park city is set to be taken down due to the misuse of the public property...

The church of dirt in park city is set to be taken down due to the misuse of the public property (Kelsey Lage Photography)

(Kelsey Lage Photography)

PARK CITY, Utah — Utah is full of “hidden gems”, but what happens when those gems get found and then over-used? Apparently, that’s what’s happening to the Church of Dirt, an unofficial wedding venue in Park City.

The Church of Dirt, made famous by social media as an outdoor wedding venue, is closing. Funnily enough, it never really opened.

Trails and Open Space Manager at Park City Municipal, Heinrich Deters, said weddings were never sanctioned for the area; they just allowed them to happen until the area started getting abused.

This summer alone, more than 150 weddings occurred at the Church of Dirt, resulting in litter and road and trail access obstruction.

Even though the Church of Dirt was on public land, Deters said people were not treating it like public land.

“People were roping off the trailheads or, there was actually quite a few, sort of egregious, where people were stopping people in the trails saying, ‘you have to go around, this is a private wedding,'” said Deters.

Outdoor weddings

It makes sense though, right? Utah is a beautiful place. The outdoors is a wonderful place to get married. Social media, oddly enough, is helping people realize the beauty of the outside.

“They see this, and they want to go to these areas. What we have found as land managers is that it’s insatiable,” said Deters about people abusing the public space.

However, when there’s a mad dash to have your wedding there, and when weddinggoers are blocking public access to public land, it’s difficult to please both groups. 

The Church of Dirt closure

After several years of allowing the structure and benches near the Empire Pass trailhead to stand, Park City’s land management has made the decision to dismantle them.

This comes as a culmination of deliberation and consideration, as the city recognizes the necessity of bringing this chapter to a close.

Related: Barn weddings becoming more popular in Utah, farmers say it helps pay the bills

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Saying goodbye to The Church of Dirt